TV series Only Fools and Horses has been named as the most watched programme in the 87-year history of British television. More than 24 million people enjoyed the famous episode on 29th December 1996, when the sitcom’s star, Derek “Del Boy” Trotter, finally realised his dream of becoming incredibly rich.
His most famous quote from the BBC series, “This time next year, we’ll be millionaires,” came true after his rare antique watch sold for £6.2 million at an auction at Sotheby’s.
© Maximum Film / Alamy Stock Photo
For Del Boy and younger brother Rodney, it was the pinnacle of 15 years spent eking a living through their business, Trotters Independent Traders.
Written by John Sullivan, this comic masterpiece first aired in 1981, continuing for seven series totalling 64 episodes, plus several Christmas specials. The final show was screened on Christmas Day 2003.
Most of the action took place in the southeast London district of Peckham, where the Trotter brothers lived in a high-rise flat at Nelson Mandela House. A familiar sight driving round the neighbourhood in their bright yellow Reliant Robin van, they sold a variety of dodgy goods from a battered suitcase at the edge of the market.
Del Boy’s many “get rich quick” schemes seldom had any success at all. In fact, they usually left him and Rodney out of pocket.
Hole in One: Only Fools and Horses
Some of their schemes were slightly more outrageous than others, such as in an episode called Hole in One, first broadcast in March 1985.
The plot revolved around an ill-thought-out attempt to win compensation from a brewery following an accident at their local pub, the Nag’s Head. Uncle Albert was the victim, as he had fallen through an open door into the pub’s cellar.
Buster Merryfield, who played the unfortunate Uncle Albert in Only Fools and Horses, was a great comedy actor and a fans’ favourite. The character was a Royal Navy veteran who had served during World War II. He was renowned for his long and rambling stories, which often involved the vessel on which he had served sinking.
Albert had gone to live with Del Boy and Rodney following their grandad’s death – unfortunately due to the sudden death of the actor who played him, Lennard Pearce.
After four weeks, realising his nephews’ finances were low, Albert decided to give them a helping hand to make some money.
Del Boy blamed Rodney for their lack of cash, as he had made an impulsive investment in £500 worth of suntan lotion. Unfortunately, they were in the middle of the “worst winter in over two million years” and the £500 had been the last of their money!
Pawning the family jewellery
Sitting in the Nag’s Head, Del and Rodney weigh up their options to make money. Del decides he’ll have to go to a pawnbroker. Chatting to Rodney about pawnbroking, Del decides there’s no other way, blaming his younger brother again for their predicament.
Uncle Albert gets tired of hearing them arguing and wanders off, saying cryptically, “Don’t worry, something will turn up.” After he disappears, this prompts Rodney to ask Del if they should go with him “in case he gets mugged”. Unconcerned, Del replies, “Nah, he’s skint anyway!”
Realising he’s out of money-making options, he adds, “Well, that’s it, ain’t it? I’m gonna have to pawn all the jewellery again! “Honestly, these rings know more about hock than a German wine taster!”
Moments later, a commotion ensues when it’s discovered Albert has fallen into the cellar. However, all isn’t what it seems! When he declares, “I’ve got a right mind to sue the brewery,” a plan hatches in Derek’s brain. He tells Rodney to phone their solicitor.
Even when it transpires Albert is uninjured, the solicitor says he can still sue for mental trauma. The brewery subsequently offers them £2,000 in an out of court settlement, which Albert is happy to accept.
However, Del decides they should go to court to try and win more money. Unfortunately, his idea backfires when the brewery’s solicitor reveals it’s not the first time Albert has had an “accident” in similar circumstances! It’s also revealed that the war veteran completed parachute training before joining the Navy, so was trained how to fall without injuring himself.
Once the scam has been uncovered, Del and Rodney find out Albert has launched 15 similar lawsuits and won out-of-court settlements, gaining such notoriety that he’s nicknamed “The Ferret”! Albert confesses that he’d pulled the stunt again because he wanted to win compensation to pay Del and Rodney for their hospitality and to buy a headstone for Grandad’s grave.
He explains that when he and grandad had been short of money, they had pulled off the same scam and won compensation.
This time next year, we’ll be millionaires!
Some time afterwards, Del goes on to realise his dream of becoming a millionaire by selling the rare watch that had been stored in his garage for many years.
No-one will ever forget Del Boy’s other legendary quotes, such as “lovely jubbly”, which has been immortalised in the English language thanks to the series. He also said “cushty” as slang for “excellent” and “he who dares wins” to explain his reckless actions!
As well as the humour in the Hole in One episode, there’s also an underlying serious message. It’s actually not a bad idea to consider pawning if your other options have negative consequences.
There are many things you can pawn for good money as well as jewellery. Some pawn their classic and vintage cars, precious metals, electronics and tech items, luxury watches, musical instruments and more.